In education in the United States, a superintendent of schools, also known in many states as a chief school administrator, is a person who has executive oversight and administrative powers, usually within an educational entity or organization.
In the United States there are many variations in public school systems from state to state. Every state constitution has language requiring a state-supported system of public education. Education comes within states' rights so, while there are many similarities among public school education systems from state to state, there are also differences.
- State level
- Many state departments of education in the United States refer to their state-level chief education officer/administrator as "Superintendent." However, also common are the titles "commissioner" and "secretary." In most states the state-level education administrator is appointed, but some states select the official by statewide election.
- District level
- Depending on the state in which they serve, a public school Superintendent might be referred to as "chief education officer," or "chief executive officer." The most common title is "Superintendent of Schools." Generally, public school district Superintendent have administrative oversight of the students, public schools, and educational services within the geographic area (school district) identified by state law. School district Superintendent are hired by a school board of a local school district. As chief executive officer of the public schools, the Superintendent has oversight for what is often (in smaller communities) one of the larger businesses within the community the school district serves.
In many states Superintendent of schools are members on the board of education (school board) of their school district, but they usually cannot vote as members of the board. In most states, Superintendent of schools are required to hold a "certification" issued by the state in which they work. State certification is typically earned by completing a course of study prescribed by the state, usually 60 graduate hours above the bachelor degree and an internship. While not required by any state, many school boards prefer that their Superintendent hold a doctoral degree. Most Superintendent are hired by contract with the board of education (or board of trustees). The board of education is the governing (policy making) entity of the school district. The board of education is composed of elected (or appointed) officials from the communities the school district serves.
Current chief state school officers
Although the Wyoming Constitution provides for a popularly elected superintendent of public instruction, the state department of education is led by a director appointed by the governor. For completeness, both offices are listed below.
Note: In January 2013 the Wyoming Legislature passed a law stripping the office of superintendent of most of its duties and eliminating its role as executive of the state department of education. This was done in response to the controversial tenure of Superintendent Cindy Hill who "alienated and frustrated state lawmakers and others who took issue with how she ran [the] department."  Superintendent Hill sued to have the law declared unconstitutional and Wyoming Supreme Court heard arguments in August 2013.
The term 'superintendent' is rarely used for education in the United Kingdom (possibly to avoid confusion with the police rank); in most Local Education Authorities the equivalent title is Chief Education Officer. According to the history of Newcastle High School (published in 1985), when in 1885 the Church Schools Company took over a school to form Newcastle High School, later Newcastle upon Tyne Church High School, the mistress of the former school was briefly considered for the post of Lady Superintendent, below the headmistress.
- Board of education
- Chancellor (education)
- Dean (education)
- Head teacher
- Principal (school)
- Provost (education)
- School district
- Superintendent of Public Instruction
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- The Superintendent in an Age of Accountability - from the Education Resources Information Center.
- Kentucky Commissioner of Education
- SuperintendentOfSchools.com - Providing information and professional support to superintendents of schools and school district officials in New York State
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